Cristie Kerr drained two birdies in her first six holes en route to a two-under 70 to grab a share of the lead after the third round of the Kia Classic on Saturday.
Lizette Salas is the coleader with fellow American Kerr after posting a three-under 69 to reach 10-under 206 in the LPGA Tour event at the Park Hyatt Aviara Golf Club in Carlsbad, California. Salas is seeking her first win on the American Tour.
“I have been hitting it pretty fine. I am an adrenaline player; once I get it going, I get confident,” said veteran Kerr, who is aiming for her 17th US title.
Second-round leader Dori Carter stumbled to a two-over 74 to drop to eight under. She was joined in third place by Japan’s Ayako Uehara (67), Feng Shanshan of China (69) and Swede Anna Nordqvist (67).
Stacy Lewis bogeyed three of the last five holes en route to shooting one-over 73. Lewis fell into a tie for seventh at seven-under 209, where she stands alongside Ji Eun-hee (65), Lexi Thompson (70) and Chella Choi (70).
Kerr opened with four straight pars before dropping in back-to-back birdie chances at five and six to get within one of the lead.
She two-putted for birdie on the 10th, then stumbled to a bogey at 11.
After four pars in a row, Kerr birdied the 16th to move two clear of Salas and Lewis.
Her third shot to the par-five 17th ran over the green and she failed to get up and down for par.
Kerr pushed her approach shot from the middle of the fairway into the water right of the green at the final hole. She took a drop on the fringe and drained a long par-saving putt from there to finish at 10-under.
“I was thinking, get it close and just move on and have a new day tomorrow, and it went in,” Kerr said. “I hit some kind of bad putts on the back nine, but that made up for it.”
Salas converted her birdie chance to join Lewis and Kerr in the lead at the par-three 14th. Salas gave that shot back at the 15th before making birdie on No. 17 for the colead.
“I felt like I left some putts out there, but I’m still hitting great shots and giving myself opportunities for birdie,” Salas said. “Tomorrow is going to be an exciting day. We’ll just see what happens. You know, another round in the 60s is a good thing, but I still feel like I left some putts out there. You’ve just got to shake it off.”
Tied for 32nd, Taiwan’s Yani Tseng shot 72 for 214 total.
Additional reporting by staff writer